What’s up guys, Sagi here and welcome to another Tech Gear Talk. Today we’re going to compare 2 great cameras the Sony a6400 and the Canon M50. The Sony A6400 is a really impressive aps-c sensor camera which replaced the very popular a6300 and released on February of 2019. The Canon M50 on the other hand, is Canon’s first consumer mirrorless camera to offer 4k video. We’re going to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of both cameras when it comes to photography and video, and hopefully I can help you decide which option is best for you. My goal with every product comparison is to give you a detailed overview of the products and compare them in a way that relates to real life use.
Ok, let’s get going! I’m going to get into details for each aspect of the two camera but quickly go over some overall key features in case you’re just starting your research:
I want to start talking about the sensor and processor. Both the a6400 and the M50 come with a a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor. The a6400 sensor is BSI or back side illuminated, meaning that some of the elements were moved to the back of the sensor with the goal being better low-light performance. And Sony did a fantastic job with sensor and in my experience it performed better in low light than the M50 sensor. The Sony APS-C sensor has a crop factor of 1.5x and the Canon APS-C sensor has a crop factor of 1.6x. That means that if I put a 50mm lens on the a6400 and apply a 1.5x crop factor, it will give me a 35mm equivalent field of view of a 75mm lens. On the other hand, if I put that same lens on the M50, I have to apply a crop factor of 1.6x and I am getting an 80mm equivalent field of view. This means that the Sony provides a slightly wider angle of view but it’s not a big enough different to be a deciding factor for me. In terms of sensor, I’m going to give the a6400 the edge because it has improved low light performance and a slightly lower crop factor.
As far as processors, both the a6400 use a Bionz X processor and the M50 uses the DIGIC 8 processor. The combination of sensor and processor on both cameras produced very nice images and video for me. In addition, general menu operation is fast for both cameras, both have very quick startup and things like Image preview and video playback are nice and fast. Because of how I shoot, one of the features I look at for every camera I get is continuous or burst shooting. You can just point the camera at the subject, hold down the shutter and the camera will just keep firing. This is a nice feature if you’re photographing sports, pets, kids running around, or any fast moving subjects. Of course, the more frames you have per second, the more exposures you’ll have to pick from later on. The a6400 can shoot at up to 11fps in burst mode and the M50 can shoot at up to 10fps. When we look at buffer memory, we see that the Sony reports 99 JPEG or 46 RAW images for the a6400 vs 36 JPEG and 10 RAW images for the M50. To sum things up, as far as sensor and processor, I’m going to give the edge to the a6400 because it has better low light performance, slightly faster burst shooting and a larger buffer.
Moving on, one of the most important things for me with any tool that I use, is ergonomics in terms of both handling and functionality. As far as size goes, both cameras are small which makes them both a great option when it comes to portability. I always consider the camera size in terms of performance, ergonomics and portability. The a6400, being slightly bigger is a little more comfortable for me to hold. On the other hand, the a50 while slightly less comfortable, is smaller and lighter. The a6400 feels like it has better build quality and has some weather-sealing to make it dust and moisture resistant.
As far as battery life, the a6400 uses an older NP-FW50 battery and is rated for 360 shots using the viewfinder and 410 shots using the LCD. On the other hand, the M50 uses LP-E12 battery and is rated for 235 shots using the viewfinder and the LCD. Here I’m giving the clear edge to the a6400. It’s not that it has good battery life, it’s just that the M50 has really poor battery life. One feature that I like about the a6400 is that they can be used while plugged in, so if you record long video sessions or for streaming, you don’t need to worry about the battery. The M50 has a similar feature but you have to use a coupler and if you’re interested, I published a video that shows you how to do that and helps with the M50 poor battery life. When it comes to charging, the a6400 doesn’t come with a battery charger, so you have to charge the battery in the camera. The M50 on the other hand, does come with a dedicated battery charger. If you end up buying extra batteries for the a6400 just remember that you’ll also need to pick up a charger so that you can charge the battery while you’re using the camera.
Let’s talk a little about the viewfinder. Because of the a6400’s, rangefinder style design, the viewfinder does not protrude from the body which contributes to the compact design. It is a smaller, .39” EVF with a smaller magnification of .7x. But, it does have the advantage of a higher selectable refresh rate of 120fps which can lead to a smoother viewing experience when panning or following a moving subject. The M50 has a .39”, 2.36M dot viewfinder which protrudes from the top of the camera and makes the M50 taller.
Next I want to discuss the buttons and dials on these cameras. I think if you’re buying a camera and are just using it with the factory settings you’re really missing out. Part of what you get for buying a higher end camera is the ability to customize it to work better for how you shoot. The a6400, uses the top dial and the control wheel on the back for aperture and shutter speed, and has 2 custom buttons that you can use to get quick access to frequently used features. The M50, only has one top dial, and you have to use the top arrow button to alternate between aperture and shutter speed. There are also no custom buttons to program. I’m going to give the edge here to the a6400, because having dedicated aperture and shutter speed buttons is great, and the ability to program custom buttons for how I shoot results and a more customized solution. As far as ease of use, I’m going to give the edge to the M50 – I just found it to be a lot simpler, and it might be a better option for beginners. This is a bit of a double edge sword though because the a6400 has so many more features, that by definition make it a more complex (and powerful) camera.
Next I want to talk about resolution, framerates and image quality. For photography, both cameras offer a 6000 x 4000 pixel image, so as far as strict head-to-head resolution, this is a tie. Both cameras can shoot in both JPEG and RAW so you can decide just how much information you want to capture depending on what you plan to do with the images in post production. I was super happy with the images I got from both cameras for the price and the photos were clean and crisp, and I really love the color I was getting from both. In terms of image quality, I’m going to give the advantage to the a6400 because of the improved low-light performance of the sensor. This allowed me to shoot at higher ISO values when I needed to and the JPEG noise reduction on the a6400 is excellent in my opinion. I can do a more detailed image quality comparison in another video. So if that is something you’re interested in, let me know in the comment section and make sure you’re subscribed and have notifications turned on.
For video, the a6400 can record 4k video at 24 and 30fps and FULL HD or 1080P at 24, 30, 60 and 120fps. The M50 can shoot 4K only at 24fps, and Full HD or 1080P at 24,30 and 60. 4K on the M50 is also limited by an additional crop factor of 1.7x which makes it challenging to get wide shots. 4k on the M50 is also hampered by the lack of dual pixel autofocus. The a6400 has a significant edge here with no crop factor for 4K24, a 1.2x crop factor for 4K30 (which the M50 can’t do at all), 120fps in Full HD for great slow motion and the fact that 4K isn’t impacted by inferior autofocus. The a6400 can also record up to 4k30p 4:2:2 8 bit via a clean HDMI output at 100 Mb/s. Overall, 4K footage from the a6400 is just better than the M50, so if that’s a feature you’re looking for, I would suggest you go with the Sony.
For 1080P, I’m happy with the footage I get from both cameras at 24, 30 and 60fps, but again, the Sony has the option for 120fps which gives it the edge. The a6400 also offers a video option called S&Q which if you’re not familiar with, allows you to select frame rates ranging from 1 frame per second all the way up to 120 frames per second. The camera will then either slow it down or speed it up to either 24 or 30fps. So if you’re using S&Q 120fps, and you watch the clip in camera or on your computer, it will already be slowed down, vs shooting regular 1080p 120fps which will still need to be slowed down in your video editor.
Next let’s talk about time lapse. The a6400 offers interval shooting, which lets you have full control over your timelapse, you can drag your shutter and get the results you want. Once you’re done shooting, you’ll need to take the individual photos and compile a timelapse video using software. The M50 comes with in-body 4k timelapse, meaning that the camera will actually compile the timelapse for you so that it is ready to view. This is where you’re going to have to make a choice. The a6400 gives you much more control over the timelapse and a higher resolution, but it means you have to do work in Post production. The M50 does the work for you, but you’re more limited in terms of exposure. I’m not going to pick a winner here because different users are going to have different preferences.
An area where I will give the edge to the a6400 is that it has a clean HDMI out, so it is a great option when it comes to live streaming. The M50 does not have a clean HDMI out so the only way to use it for live streaming is to use manual focus or to use special software. Another feature that I love about the a6400 is that there is no longer a 30 minute recording limit for video. This allows for continuous shooting of longer clips and removes the hassle of having to keep track of the length of the current clip so that you don’t accidentally reach the 30 minute mark and have your camera automatically stop recording. So if you’re using this for YouTube, or to shoot an interview or record and event, you’re going to love the fact that you can record continuously for much longer.
Alright, next let’s talk about autofocus, and before we get into the numbers, I’m going to tell you that autofocus on both of these cameras is fantastic. The a6400 has 425 phase and 425 contrast detection points covering 84% of the sensor. The M50 uses Canon’s amazing dual pixel autofocus system and has somewhere between 99 and 143 autofocus points depending on which lens you use.
For photography, the a6400 is faster and a bit more accurate, especially for continuous shootings. The Eye AF has been good with both cameras and I absolutely love it when I shoot portraits because I don’t have to worry about getting a focus point exactly on the subject’s eye, and I can just concentrate on framing. If eyes are not detected, both cameras will revert back to face tracking. The a6400 also offers Animal Eye AF which is really important to me because I take a lot of photos of my dogs and traditional zone autofocus options would focus on the nose because it’s closer to the camera.
For video, I have always been a fan of Canon’s dual pixel autofocus and the M50 does not disappoint. I am completely confident that when the camera is facing me, my face is identified, is being tracked and that there will be no hunting. The a6400 also has Face tracking which works really well and I did not experience the type of hunting I sometimes got from older models. Both cameras also offer subject tracking which is great and can be activated using the touch screen, but the M50 has an easier to use in my opinion.
So to recap, the a6400 has more autofocus points which cover a larger portion of the sensor, Animal Eye-AF and a faster optimal AF time, while the M50 has simpler to use autofocus modes and interface.
Let’s talk a little about the screen. The a6400 has a 3” 922K LCD tilting flip screen so we can finally see ourselves when we’re in front of the camera without using an external monitor. It’s not the most elegant implementation and if you want to know more about it check out my detailed review, but it does work. The M50 has a fully articulating screen that can be tilted up, down and to both sides, plus turned 180 degrees to face the front. If you take into account different types of photography, using the camera on a slider and a gimbal, there is no question that the advantage here goes to the M50 in terms of screen positioning. Both companies refer to their screens as touch screen, but the M50 has a full touch screen while the a6400 only has a partial one. On the M50, you can navigate the menu, select options and features from the screen, and touch or drag to focus. On the a6400, you can only use the touch functionality for focus so once again, I’m going to give the advantage to the M50.
The next set of features that I want to bring up have to do with Audio. Both the a6400 and the M50 have an external mic input, so you can use an external microphone to get excellent audio right into the camera. A big advantage of the a6400 is that the audio levels display is always available on the LCD when you’re in movie mode. So as you’re preparing to record, and even while you’re recording, you can see the levels and you can also adjust them while recording. On the M50, you have to go into the menu to see and adjust audio levels before recording. You can’t see them while you’re recording, and you can’t make adjustments without stopping the recording. So again, if you’re shooting video, the a6400 wins when it comes to audio options. I recently put out a video discussing the importance of audio for video and I’ll link to it up in the corner and in the description.
I also want to talk about other features that this camera has that may help you make a buying decision. First I want to talk about Image Stabilization. The a6400 does not have image stabilization so you’ll have to rely on lens-based OSS. The M50 does not have sensor-shifting In-Body Image Stabilization, but it does offer in-body digital image stabilization which can work together with the lens-based IS. I normally don’t rely on it and would rather use warp stabilizer in premiere pro.
The next thing I want to talk about is the apps. The a6400 uses the Imaging Edge app which is fairly basic. You can control shooting mode, shutter speed, aperture, ISO and White Balance for both photography and video. For stills, you also control the self timer, continuous shooting settings, and there are some flash options. For video you can adjust your framerate, movie format and you can start and stop recording. The biggest problem is that you can’t see which autofocus mode is selected and you can’t change modes. You also can’t see where the focus point or select a focus point – this makes the app useless for me when it comes to video, unless I’m only using it for framing and to start and stop video. The Canon Camera Connect app gives you full functionality for photography and video which includes seeing and select focus modes and points. Both apps let you preview and transfer images and video to your mobile device. I’m going to give the edge to the M50 because the focus feature on the app is critical to how I shoot.
Ok, so which camera is a better value and which one should you get? In order to make a decision we need to discuss the cost. At the time I’m making this video, the a6400 costs $900 and the M50 costs $629, so that’s a big difference when you’re looking at this price point. As we would expect, the a6400 has the advantage in many areas, with better resolution and framerate options, better video quality, more autofocus points, better low light performance, faster burst shooting, a larger buffer, more dials and custom buttons and dials, a better battery life, no time recording limit, a clean HDMI out and a few other features I’ve already discussed. The M50 can do in-body time lapse, has a fully articulating real touch screen, is easier to use for beginners, offers digital image stabilization, uses a better app and is less expensive. I always say, you can’t have everything in every camera so it comes down to what’s important to you.I do my best to answer every question, so if you have any questions for me, fire away. I also have links in the description to the more detailed video about each camera if you want a more in-depth review. I really hope this video gave you a good comparison between the Sony a6400 and Canon M50, and I would love to hear in the comments section which option is best for you.
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